When Life Gives You Lemons…Celebrate! Lemon Cupcakes!

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Hey there, it’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten you. My very awesome Godmother came to town this weekend and I hear she had a nice time. I say that because I spent most of this weekend, and today, in bed sick. Wonderful timing body. My Godmother mentioned that she wouldn’t mind if there happened to be lemon cupcakes awaiting her arrival and look what the cupcake fairy brought! I found the recipe for the cupcakes and icing here (thanks to crazy for crust). Now these are advertised as triple lemon due to the fact that they’re lemon-ception cupcakes (lemon cupcakes with lemon icing and lemon filling) but honestly, I could use more lemon. I really like my lemon goodies to be kick-your-butt, suck-your-face-in lemony. Now you’ll see in the pictures that my icing looks a bit, well, deflated, and that’s all on me. I tried to Emeril-up the lemon factor and BAM! in some more lemon. I could have counteracted it with more powdered sugar but then I’d need to add some more lemon and it would get all “if you give a mouse a cookie” and the cycle would never stop. With, that, the recipe! (my notes, as always, in bold)

Perfect Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Yield: 15 (probably…but I got 12 with some left over because I was tired and didn’t want to bake another pan for 3 cupcakes.)

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 a large lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 large lemon) (I nixed the zest and added a splash more lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Filling & Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup lemon curd (jarred or from scratch) for the filling (for this, I used my maternal Grandmother’s lemon pie recipe, but that recipe is sacred to me so for now, I’m keeping it under wraps. apologies)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 large lemon) (yeah….so…no, not a zest fan, used more lemon)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (1 large lemon) (or like a gallon, whatever…note you will need to balance this out with powdered sugar if you add more. this is the only place where I used bottled lemon juice because at that point I was sick and wasn’t about to be squeezing any lemons.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, for desired consistency (I did a dash more than 1 tbsp but then used the lemon juice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with liners (makes 15-16).
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add melted butter to a large bowl and mix in sugar with a hand mixer for 30 seconds, until thick and yellow. Add eggs one at at time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract, lemon juice, and zest.
  4. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Don’t over mix! Divide batter among liners, filling 2/3 full (about 1/4 cup of batter per cupcake). Bake for 13-18 minutes (mine came out at 18) until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.
  5. To fill: cut out a small bit of the top/center of the cupcake. (Cut a hole that’s about the size of a dime and the amount of cupcake you take out is a little larger than a marble.) Fill each hole with about 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of lemon curd.
  6. To make the frosting: Beat butter until creamy. Beat in salt and 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time until it’s all added.
  7. Beat in lemon juice and zest. Add 1 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and mix until smooth. Add more cream as needed for desired consistency. Frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to let it come to room temperature before using.
  8. Frost cupcakes by placing frosting in a pastry bag. I like the 1M tip, it gives pretty swirls. Add extra lemon zest for decoration, if desired.

Lemon curd can be found in the jam/jelly section of most grocery stores. Or make your own.

Now then. A note. When my Godmother and Mother both got here Friday night, I had just pulled the cupcakes out of the oven…there went the first one…Godmother couldn’t wait which is just a testament to how good they look/smell. I opted to say good night to family and cupcakes and hit the hay. Then it happened. BOOM! VIRAL INFECTION! DO NOT PASS GO! DO NOT COLLECT $200! boo on that. Mysteriously as I lay in bed, cupcakes kept going missing…but they had no icing. What kind of creature eats cupcakes without icing?!? No good can come of this I tell you, NO GOOD! My Godmother’s visit came and went without frosted cupcakes. My Mom happily ate some of the lemon pie filling though and no one seemed to mind eating unfrosted cupcakes. This will never not baffle me. I will again say that cupcakes without frosting are just muffins! Moving along from my crazed obsession. I made the icing today…three days later (while wearing gloves and breathing away from the food). I couldn’t stand to shuffle into the kitchen one more time and see those poor, shivering, naked cupcakes. I only filled three of them and while they’re not as pretty as my last cupcakes, they’ll do. I wasn’t so crazy about the frosting in general…even with my mistake aside. The cupcakes came out a bit wet but moist and good. Everyone seemed to like them. So I say go for the cupcakes, find a good filling recipe and shop around a bit on the icing – no harm on trying this one first, maybe its just my virus addled brain that did something wrong.

 

Enjoy!

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Trypophobics should skip the next two pictures and if you don’t know what Trypophia is, do yourself a favor and DON’T look it up.

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woe is me and my runny icing

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Aunt CMCKG Jesuit Casserole (aka Potato Casserole)

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Alright, so yeeeeears back, back when I was in High School, my Aunt, Uncle and a Cousin came to visit from Texas. My Aunt made an awesome casserole and lo and behold here it is (as always, my notes are in bold)! She apparently got it from her son’s best friend in high school (it was a Jesuit school, hence the name) I had this with a bleu cheese, crouton and bacon bits salad with raspberry vinaigrette and a side of breakfast sausage.
 Potato Casserole
 1 stick butter (melted)
2 lb bag of frozen hash browns (thawed) (see my note about thawing below)
1/2 cup chopped onion – fine  (or you can put in some dried mince onion or leave out all together)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 – 2 eight ounce grated cheddar cheese (the more cheese the better I think!) (I agree and used 16oz)
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic salt
black pepper
1/2 pint of sour cream (8oz)
2 cups of corn flakes (I just poured some evenly on the top)
Grease 9 x 13 baking dish.(I used Pam spray)  Mix everything but potatoes with 1/2 stick of melted butter. Add potatoes.  Mix well.  Put in pan.  Crumble corn flakes on top. (I forgot to crumble them – oops)  Drizzle remaining butter on top.
Preheat oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hour (85 mins) – or when top gets brown and sides get bubbly. (tastes even better the next day)
 Enjoy! (ooooh I did! Thanks “Ant” T)
 Thawing Note
I bought my groceries on my way home so the hash browns were still rock solid. To the internet! A quick search gave me four options; to wait (HA!), lay them out on a baking sheet in the fridge, microwave them or option 4 (my personal favorite as it was the fastest).
 Option 4 – Put your hash browns into a colander in the sink and run cold water over them for about 20 seconds and then ring them out. HEY PRESTO! Waiting, schmaiting.

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yes, there is lettuce in there under all the delicious delicious toppings

Ugly Truffles (It’s the inside that counts)

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So, one of my friend’s birthday is on the 5th and she stopped by my office to say hi today. She’s a Keto fanatic (aka like 1 carb a year…I exaggerate, but still, BLEG) and since this is her birthday weekend she’s using it as her cheat weekend, and when the woman cheats, she cheats. I’m talking emptying out a Coldstone and Dairy Queen in the same night AFTER drinking Dog Fish dry…and she’s still like a size negative 000. Of course the running 8 miles a morning could have something to do with that, but I digress. I took the opportunity to make her sinfully carb-full truffles. One batch of peanut and one batch of coconut.

Now I’ve made these truffles before; they’re super simple. The basic recipe is cream cheese, Oreos and some extract. I’ve made chocolate, peppermint, you name it, but for coconut I looked up a recipe and found this one from branappetit.com. (my notes in bold)

COCONUT OREO TRUFFLES

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package oreo cookies (I used two…less a few cookies that I ate in the car…purely for quality control)
  • 1 8-oz. package low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature (2 of them)
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract (you get the idea, I doubled it)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, or a mix if you want both) (I used a bag and 1/2 of milk chocolate and then 3/4 a bag of semi sweet)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil (doubled)
  • toasted coconut for topping (optional) (ran out of time this morning and it was too hot to use the oven last night)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all the oreos in the bowl of a food processor and turn it on. Let the machine run until the cookies are ground and there are no large chunks of cookie left. (I had my Vitamix turn itself off constantly as it was overheating which means my filling didn’t get super smooth and had more of a cookie crumble texture inside which turned out fine- ice it can handle, cookies? apparently not so much)
  2. Add the cream cheese and coconut extract to the oreos and turn it on again, letting it process until the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese are mixed together and have formed a ball of dough. (I did this twice – oreos, cream cheese and extract and then added the second batch of oreos etc)
  3. Put the oreo mixture in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. (it was still too goopy to form properly, probably because I doubled the recipe so I left it in the freezer over night – turned into a block but was easy enough to work with)
  4. Scoop about 1 Tbsp of the cookie mixture from the bowl, roll it into a ball, and repeat until all the truffle fillings are ready to dip.
  5. Pour your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the coconut oil.
  6. Drop a truffle into the melted chocolate, roll it around with a spoon or fork to cover it completely, and then lift it out of the bowl on a fork or slotted spoon to let the extra chocolate drip off.
  7. Place the chocolate-dipped candy on parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the truffles. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle a bit of the toasted coconut on the top of each truffle.
  8. Serve once the chocolate has set. (yeah, about that…I left the dipping step until this morning and so the truffles weren’t quite set when I was ready to leave for work…I put the baking sheets full of truffles in the back seat of my car and cranked up the AC to the point where even I was cold – and that’s a feat- and they were perfect when I got to work)

Peanut Butter Oreo Truffles (my own recipe…if you can call it that, it’s soooo simple)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 packages of special edition Reese’s Pieces Oreos (these bags are slightly smaller, you can alsos use regular peanut butter Oreos)
  • 1 jar (roughly 15-160z) of creamy peanut butter, although I suppose chunky could work too
  • 2 1/2 bags milk chocolate morsels (or whatever chocolate you want)

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the Oreos and peanut butter in a food processor (don’t break the machine)

Chill in fridge 30 mins to overnight

Roll into balls and dip into melted chocolate

Let set

Eat!

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, M!!!

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Mozzarella-Stuffed Onion Rings (or not)

Well, when I started this blog, I promised you the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, this is one of those bad and ugly times.

I attempted to make mozzarella-stuffed onion rings and ended up with a dry pile of onion rings and a dry pile of mozzarella sticks. The biggest crime here? All the wasted cheese!

I got the recipe from Serious Eats and I’m not one to blame the creator  – it apparently worked for her, but I didn’t have the same outcome.

Here’s the recipe with my notes:

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick rings (I ended up needing two)
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 1/2 tsp of lemon juice in 2 cups whole milk)
  • 12 sticks part skim mozzarella cheese sticks, frozen
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup Corn Chex or cornflakes, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Marinara sauce or ranch dressing, for dipping (I used Greek Yogurt ranch)

Directions

  1. In a large, shallow container, combine onion slices and buttermilk, making sure to coat all of the onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight (longer soaking will yield more tender onions).
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Remove onions from the buttermilk and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Arrange onion slices in pairs, with each pair having one ring about 1/2 inch smaller in diameter than its partner (the goal is to nest one inside the other with just a small gap between them).
  3. Remove the string cheese from the freezer just long enough to soften it up slightly, about 5 minutes. Quarter the cheese sticks lengthwise. (Impossible from my perspective, I recommend quartering them lengthwise before freezing) Press the cheese string quarters snugly in the gap between each onion ring pair. You should be able to fit about 2 string cheese quarters per onion ring. (This is where I lost it, I could not do it, maybe I sized the onion rings incorrectly, but it just wasn’t happening)
  4. Pour 3/4 cup flour into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. In a third bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup flour, corn meal, panko, crushed Corn Chex (or Corn Flakes), salt, and pepper. Gently dip the stuffed onion rings, one at a time, into the flour, and then into the egg, and then back into the flour. Dip the rings once more in the egg and then into the panko-combo coating. (I’d suggest freezing the onion ring-mozzarella combo before dipping…if you can even make it to this step – and if so, more power to you) Transfer coated onion rings to the baking sheet. Spray onion rings liberally with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Bake until crisp and golden, about 22 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Serve with marinara or ranch for dipping.

NOTES: NOPE! not happening, I couldn’t assemble these buggers and so opted to make onion rings and mozzarella sticks. I couldn’t quarter the frozen mozzarella sticks without quartering my own fingers so I let them thaw, quartered them and then refroze them. I had already “nested” my onion slices and poured out the milk – I wish I hadn’t because I could have had them soaking longer while the cheese was refreezing. They soaked for about seven hours though. I followed the rest of the instructions regarding breading – although I had to double the breading recipe, there wasn’t enough to coat all the rings and sticks. There wasn’t more coating on each onion/mozzarella stick, just more in the bowls. I did the rings at 425 for 22 mins flipping at 11 and they came out soooo dry. The sticks I put in at 350 for 10 mins, same thing. Both felt like taking a bite of dry, tasteless, crumbly coating. A big ole YECK! I would not try to make these together, I’d just make onion rings and mozzarella sticks separately. I’ve had success that way with different recipes. I’d also love to try one of these air fryers from Cooks Essentials and QVC some day. I still love the idea of this recipe so if you can get it to work, let me know how!

Oh well, as one of my best friends says “You live you learn. And then you eat delicious food that you have perfected” -JB

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yes, that is Animaniacs in the background

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action shot!

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failure

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horribleness

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a cheese travesty

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Deviled Egg Salad

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Hey there! So, every once in a while, my dad will boil up some hard boiled eggs – usually on a  Saturday or Sunday. Today he told me to do with them what I will so I decided to make deviled egg salad. Let it be known that my mother is the queen of deviled eggs. This is pretty much her filling on a large scale.

Dad’s Hard Boiled Eggs

Boil about an inch or so of water – enough to just cover eggs

Once the water is boiling, carefully lower in the eggs and let simmer covered for 13 mins (the amount of eggs doesn’t matter, just so long as they’re not stacked)

Remove eggs to an ice bath and let chill for 15 mins

Deviled Egg Salad

Peel hard boiled eggs (they should peel easily if you use the method above…I messed mine up a bit because I wasn’t careful  – they were about to be a paste anyway)

Break eggs up a bit and run them through a garlic press (trust me, I learned this from a Dick Van Dyke episode, it works!)

There’s no science here, next I just toss in some mayo, pepper (note: I get my love of pepper, esp with eggs, from my maternal grandfather who likes scrambled eggs with his pepper not the other way around), paprika and salt.

Note: If you don’t want it so paste-like, I would suggest just running the egg yolks through the press and chopping the egg whites then mixing all together.

That’s it! Super easy, super yummy!

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Added bonus: dad boiled eggs last Easter and one was cracked and morphed into the Easter Bunny. See? Bunnies have EVERYTHING to do with eggs!

 

Maple Creme Cookies

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My parents and family friends planted their garden at my parents’ house last night. Big shoutout to “M” who did the bulk of the work. My contribution – because there was no way I was gardening in 90+ degrees- was to make these Maple Creme Cookies from e2bakesbrooklyn. I promise not all of my recipes are from her blog but I saw these and it took me right back to my 30th birthday last October. I visited some friends in NYC and Liz made these. So amazingly good! You can find the original recipe here. Now there is something you should know, my mother was posted in Canada for two years and since then, we’ve become all about all things Maple. She said these are better than the maple cremes she buys – now THAT’S an endorsement! If anyone has a good beaver tail recipe, send it my way, yum! (note: a beaver tail is a pastry, not an actual beaver tail, take it easy PETA)

This recipe is supposed to make 72 cookies (36 once sandwiched) but I made them a bit too big and ended up with 55/27.5 as a result, I had extra filling (the opposite of my last post) so I made sure each one had a nice dollop- sure, they may squish out the sides the teeniest bit, but hey, it’s a cookie not a fashion show. I found that these taste even better the next day.

Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies
makes about 3 dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 tablespoons real maple syrup, preferably Grade B Dark Amber
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars until completely combined. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Then mix in the maple syrup, vanilla and maple flavoring. Turn the hand mixer to low, add in the flour mixture in two installments. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop the dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll dough into balls, and set them two inches apart on your prepared pans.(I did one pan at a time because my oven doesn’t like to bake evenly unless there is just one thing in the middle) Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes (mine came out at 9 but were slightly larger), until the tops no longer look doughy. Let cool on the baking sheets for 7-10 (I took mine off at 7) minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all dough has been used. (You may have to shorten the baking times as the dough warms up once its out of the fridge and waiting to be baked)

To make the filling, place the butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla and maple flavoring.

To assemble a sandwich cookie fill a Ziploc or pastry bag with the filling and snip off a corner, apply filling by piping a dollop in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

These cookies keep well covered at room temperature for up to five days.

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mr. moose keeps the brown sugar soft

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they look like goldfish crackers

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cameo appearance by one of my puppies

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First Post! Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Well here we are, my first post. I find it only fitting that my first post relates to the woman who inspired me to get back into the blog-game, Liz over at e2bakesbrooklyn

First, a little back-story. I met Liz in college when she was a Senior and I was a Junior. I quickly learned that the Oscars were serious business for Liz and Oscar night was spent devouring pesto-mozzarella grilled cheese sandwiches and red carpet inspired red velvet cake. It’s not an overstatement when I say talking during the show would get you kicked out of her duplex.

Last Oscar season Liz posted her red velvet Oscar cake on her blog, through the magic of the internet here’s a link: e2’s red velvet Oscar cake. Last night I was craving a cupcake and rather than buy one, I decided I would make some of my own. I popped on over to e2bakes and found the famous cake, there was even a handy “if you want to make cupcakes” tip and I did, I really really did. 18 mins per batch later I was greeted by the most perfect cupcakes domes I had ever baked. I kid you not when I tell you these are the moistest cupcakes I have ever experienced – and I made them! woo! My local Giant was out (or hiding) the buttermilk so I used e2’s tip of adding lemon juice to milk and voila! I also opted to not add red food coloring so I guess these aren’t technically red velvet, but they are in spirit – don’t judge. One other note is that the recipe says (or at least did at the time of baking) that there is enough batter for 24 cupcakes when filling each baking cup about 2/3 the way full. I ended up with four extra and didn’t have enough frosting for the extras – but that could just be my own fault as I’m heavy handed with the frosting – otherwise it’s just a muffin, people!

Here’s the recipe as found on e2bakesbrooklyn (adapted for cupcakes):

Cupcakes: (makes roughly 28)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder -not Dutch process
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 cups buttermilk (I did not have buttermilk so I used e2’s tip of putting 2 tsp of lemon juice in a Pyrex measuring bowl and then filled with whole milk up to the 2 cup line – let sit for 5 mins)
1/2-3 tablespoons liquid red food coloring (I opted out of this step)

Cream Cheese Frosting: (may want to increase if you’re frosting inclined)
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the cake. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and yolk, vanilla, white vinegar, buttermilk, and red food coloring. Add dry ingredients in three installments, combining completely after each addition.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans (aka, lined with baking cups). Fill each baking cup about 2/3 full (I did this by putting my batter in a Ziploc with a snipped edge and piping the batter into the cups).  Bake at 350F for 16-18 mins and test with a toothpick – if it’s clean, it’s time! Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for about 2 mins and then pop them out onto a cooling rack.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy. Taste – for science.

Frost cooled cupcakes. I did this again with a Ziploc bag and frosting tip. Realize that you can’t eat 28 cupcakes by yourself and take some to work – become office star.

Let me know if you end up making these – they’re super yummy. Enjoy!

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